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Weiner wants tennis event in Forest Hills

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U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) has asked the United States Tennis Association to again use Forest Hills’ West Side Tennis Stadium to rejuvenate interest in the historic structure that once hosted the US Open and which tennis club members are considering selling.

The congressman announced this week that he sent a letter to the USTA’s chairman Aug. 16 asking that the organization hold one match a year at the iconic but now dilapidated stadium where the US Open was played from 1915 to 1977.

“It is time for the United States Tennis Association to give back to Forest Hills,” Weiner wrote in his letter to the USTA’s chairman. “Holding such a prestigious tennis match in Forest Hills would boost tourism in the area and would also bring a renewed interest in using the stadium for other events.”

The USTA did not return a phone call for comment.

West Side Tennis Club members are expected to meet at the end of September to vote on the sale of the stadium, which members have said they are considering because the club in the prestigious Forest Hills Gardens neighborhood has sunk into debt.

The Forest Hills-based Cord Meyer Development Co. has proposed transforming the 2.5 acres on which the stadium stands into luxury apartments and town homes. Some members of the community, including state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) and Forest Hills Community and Civic Association President Barbara Stuchinski, have supported the plan to bring in houses.

“I toured the stadium a week and a half ago and it’s rundown to a horrible degree,” Hevesi said Monday. “One proposal, to keep the aesthetics of the stadium and turn it into residential housing, I’m OK with that.”

Others, including Rego-Forest Preservation Council President Michael Perlman, have railed against plans to develop the stadium.

“The Forest Hills tennis stadium is an American and international icon which is imminently endangered, since the West Side Tennis Club is seriously considering an offer from a developer who will demolish it for condos,” Perlman said.

Hevesi, as well as Weiner and a number of other elected officials, have said they are not pleased the tennis club has excluded the public in its discussions to sell the stadium. The assemblyman also said two-thirds of the club’s voting membership would need to approve a plan to sell the stadium, which he said they currently do not have.

Weiner, along with Hevesi, state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) and City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), sent a letter earlier this month to the city Landmarks Preservation Commission, asking that the group study whether the stadium should be preserved.

Besides hosting tennis matches, the stadium has been the site of a number of concerts, including The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix. Portions of the 2001 film “The Royal Tenenbaums” was filmed there.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 6:01 pm, October 10, 2011
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